Short stories, as a rule, tend to be overlooked. Collections are often purchased as gifts and pushed to the bottom of the reading piles in favour of the latest novel that everyone is talking about. However, Irish authors are not so hesitant to commit to a story under 3000 words. We have all read classic short stories from famous authors like James Joyce, Walter Macken and Edna O’Brien as well as the more modern collections like the annual Fish Anthology, along with the lighter works of women’s fiction authors like Marian Keyes or Cathy Kelly. There are wonderful short stories appearing in publications on a weekly basis and competitions are inundated with entries from eager writers hoping to see their words on the page. According to current statistics, the short story is making its comeback and the award winning Dubliners 100, published by Tramp Press earlier this year, shows how many established authors are willing to take on the challenge of telling a story within a limited amount of words. It can be a daunting task, one that seems easier than it actually is….
Annmarie Miles has embraced her love of writing the short story and gone with the flow. This collection is a range of tales, not connected in anyway, each with different word counts, morals and depth. She chooses darker topics such as bullying, death, grief alongside the lighter moments in life. The book is designed in such a way, that it can picked up at any time, a story read and absorbed and perhaps not picked up again until you have a spare minute or two. The stories range from 100 – 3,500 words. Each story has a basis of reality. No fantasy or sci-fi, just real people. An ideal book to have in the kitchen, as a story or two can be read while kids do homework, a cup of coffee is brewing or a pot simmering on the stove.
I had mixed feelings with the individual stories. Some were outstanding for me, notably ‘A Life Saved’ and ‘The Disappearance of Bernie Francis’, while others were just a bit too twee. It seems I favour the darker themes, but this collection caters for all tastes. I applaud Annmarie for her brave move in self-publishing her collection of short stories and I would love to see more authors take the risk. I personally hope that the short story is indeed coming back to the forefront of fiction, and that authors will continue to tap out these little gems along with their popular novels. This collection would be a great way to re-introduce yourself to the, often forgotten, world of Short Stories